SKELMERSDALE RAMBLING CLUB

Skelmersdale Rambling Club

FRODSHAM, CHESHIRE

SUNDAY 20th JANUARY 2019

WALKS TODAY

Strenuous Leader: Jimmy Need Distance: 10.00 miles

We head out of Frodsham to Frodsham Hill Wood which will eventually bring us to Beacon Hill. This leads us onto the Sandstone Trail and on to Woodhouse Hill. From here we make our way to the outskirts of Helsby. We then head over to and around Frodsham Marsh where we meander around a bit before heading back to Frodsham.

Moderate / Leisurely Leader: Dave Hatchard Distance: 8.00 miles

We start with a climb up the main road to join the Sandstone trail. After passing St Lawrence’s Church we go a further 150 yds to join a woodland path in Hill Wood to take us up to the top for an earned rest. We cross the golf course heading to Woodhouse Hill, probably a good place to have lunch and enjoy the views. We then head towards Newton and Five Crosses before heading back to Frodsham.

During the walk we will be using woodland tracks, footpaths and paved pavement. There is only one gate to go through but no stiles.

Easy Leaders: Hazel Anderton & Ruth Melling Distance: 5.25 miles

Today’s walk is a linear one starting up at Lady Heyes Farm which is a camping site and a children’s activity centre. There is a good café, which makes great bacon butties, and a few shops to look at. From here we make our way gradually down to Frodsham firstly along lanes, a few fields, across the golf course, looking out for flying balls, and around the sandstone ridge on the Sandstone Trail at first, and then part of the North Cheshire Trail before going down to town. Although we are mainly making our way down, in the woods there are some ups and downs but mainly short lived. There are good views on the way. We have not recceed the whole walk as we had to do a circular route to get back to the car, but we have done most of it. It is mainly the last part down roads into town, and the few fields, that we have not done so please bear with us while we consult the map.

NOTES ON THE AREA

Frodsham lies 3 miles south of Runcorn and 16 miles south of Liverpool with the river Weaver on one side and the Mersey to the west. The presence of iron age hill forts on the hills behind the town, and its position on the likely route from Deva (Chester) to Wilderspool, suggests that Frodsham's origins may be very old indeed. The town was important to the Norman Earls of Chester who built a castle here.

Frodsham became an important staging post in the stagecoach era, and the Bear's Paw (named after the bear-baiting which used to take place nearby) and Queen's Head recall those days. Both inns are on the broad High Street, one of the most attractive features of the town. St Lawrence's church, off Church Street, has Norman remains. Today it is on the railway line to Chester and has the M56 passing nearby.

It has been important since medieval times and today a market is still held every week, and to reflect its importance, until recently there were several building societies and branches of the main five banks. Today there is a lot of modernisation with many bars, restaurants, takeaways, pubs and numerous small businesses.

Where the Weaver meets the Mersey became an important port for trade especially for salt. Large locks and swing bridges mean that boats up to 130 ft long and 35 ft wide can use the Weaver, and so there is always a variety of shipping to be seen, particularly in the section between Northwich and the Mersey. For the last four miles the Weaver is tidal, and so it has been bypassed by a canalised section that takes boats to Weston Point Docks, where there is a connection with the Manchester Ship Canal and the Mersey estuary.

South of Frodsham is Helsby, overlooked by the hill of the same name, and Alvanley, a very pretty village with quaint cottages. On the top of Helsby Hill lies an iron age promontory hill fort on National Trust land and enclosing an area of 3.5 acres. Artificial defences were provided on the south and east sides and remains of the banks can be seen today behind the triangulation point. These may seem a little disappointing after the climb to the top of the hill, but the superb views from the woodland paths that gradually reach the summit make the effort well worthwhile. There was also another hill fort on nearby Woodhouse Hill.

The Sandstone Trail, 32 miles in length, bisects the county of Cheshire, and follows a ridge of sandstone created in some geological upheaval aeons ago. This backbone makes a fine ridge walk and is a continuous viewing platform for the surrounding countryside, and at one point there is a superb view over the Mersey estuary and towards Liverpool. On a clear day planes can be seen taking off from Speke Airport. The starting point is on Beacon Hill outside Frodsham. A steep descent into Dunsdale Hollow gives the geologically minded a chance to make a closer study of the weathered sandstone. Down here there are such features as Jacob's Ladder - a very steep, very red and very rocky stairway to the skies. The trail takes us up Abrahams Leap - but no leaping is necessary, just some mildly challenging rock 'steps'. Other features to be found along the length of the trail include sandstone outcrops and caves, heathland, forests, meres and marl pits, hillforts and canals. This sandstone area is quite prosperous with big houses, a golf course and a large hotel.

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